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Arctic Adventures - part 1 of 1 2 3

Published 01/04/2010

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By Uzair Kharawala

Uzair Kharawala is certainly a glutton for punishment but he always tortures cameras as well! First it was the London Eye with the D3, then the Swiss Alps with the D3x. Now he shares his experience of shooting a wedding at the world-famous Ice Hotel, at temperatures as low as -29°C and shooting the Northern Lights at ISO of 12,800 with the Nikon D3S.

One of the most exciting and challenging shoots I've ever done was during my trip to Lapland, just short of the Arctic Circle, in Sweden. The trip came about when I was booked to photograph a wedding at the world famous Ice Hotel in Sweden. This was roughly the same time as the Nikon D3S was launched and so it was the perfect opportunity to test the camera for its high ISO capabilities in such low light and extreme conditions.

I was specially excited about the use of the video on the DSLR. Initially, I wasn't too keen about this video capability when they were first introduced, however, I now love it and am starting to enjoy it more and more. Prior to my visit to Sweden, I did photograph a wedding here in the UK with the D3S and the image quality at ISO 10,000 and 12,800 was stunning - so I wasn't too concerned about the low light situation over there.Bride and groom posing underneath chandelier

The trip involved photographing a pre-wedding shoot, the wedding itself, a dog sledding tour on a frozen river and through the wilderness around Jukkasjarvi and a four-hour Northern Light tour on snow-mobiles and staying in the 'cold accommodation' for one night at the Ice Hotel. Yes I did sleep in a cold room at The Ice Hotel (at -5°C) and I am still here to tell the story. In fact, you get a diploma if you wake up alive in the morning! It was a fairly packed schedule within a four-day trip


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The wedding took place in the Ice Chapel and was a traditional Swedish ceremony which took 30 minutes or so. The warmest temperature inside the chapel and the Ice Hotel is no greater than -5°C, which is considerably warmer than the temperature outside. The coldest I experienced during this trip was -29°C. The wedding party then headed off to the Ice Bar for some drinks, then the family group shots, and then, after the guests have headed off to the 'warm bar', the shots of the couple and the wedding breakfast. The whole wedding took no longer than about two hours. Unlike a traditional wedding of say eight hours there is even more pressure on being organised and getting the shots which I'd been paid for.

My biggest concern was the batteries in the camera but I did not need to change the batteries once during any shoot we went out for. They pretty much lasted all day long.


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